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July 12, 2012
Guest post by Audrey Monke
“Children want to be independent, and they realize that they cannot be truly independent until they beat homesickness, even when they have a painful case of it.”
—Michael Thompson, PhD, Homesick and Happy
Recently I spoke with a mom whose eleven-year-old son is coming to camp in a few days. He’s nervous. He had a negative experience at a one-week science camp. He doesn’t think he can “make it for two weeks” and is worried he’ll be too homesick at camp. I chatted with the mom and gave her some key messages to communicate to her son. She asked for them in bullet points in an email, and I thought there are probably others who might benefit from this same list — so I’m sharing this with anyone who has a child suffering from pre-camp anxiety.
Before I share my...
July 9, 2012
We hear so much about 21st century competencies such as creativity, collaboration, and communication. I have my own 21st century list of desired “Cs”. Here is my wish list:
- I wish for confidence. Not arrogance or hubris, but the spirit of probability — probability of success and the ability to add value to the lives of others.
- I wish to achieve clarity. I want to be able to share my thoughts so they are easily understood, giving my voice a quiet power as an advocate for others.
- I wish for consistency. A consistency in principles that offer a framework for shared uniformity even within an ever-changing and complex world. I wish for an ability to assert these consistent principles even in contradiction.
I wish for these things because I believe it will make me a better person in a better world.
July 2, 2012
I have never liked lengthy documents — especially when it is clear something can be said using fewer words. I have always been particularly fond of bullets and even more enamored if it can be done in three, or fewer, bullets! Personally, I have been suspicious that I feel that way because remembering more than three bullets is a challenge for me.
But as I read some tips on marketing strategies today, behold, I found: “Never try to make more than three points in a single message.” I am validated!
Can we make messages about the camp experience that are: meaningful, believable, and memorable? What are your messages?
Check out the marketing resources available in ACA's Knowledge Center.
June 26, 2012
A couple months ago, I spoke with Susie Lupert, the new executive director of ACA, New York and New Jersey, about the importance of customer service. Although customer service may be seen as traditional business nomenclature, the concept is just as critical (if not more so) for associations. A few weeks after our conversation, Susie sent me Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service, by Ari Weinzweig.
As I have always loved things in threes, I was immediately drawn to a three-step recipe. (Yes, life should be so easy.)
- Figure out what your customer wants.
- Get it for them accurately, politely, and enthusiastically.
- Go the extra mile for the customer.
Certainly, we can all strive to accomplish those recommended steps to great customer service. Can you?
June 26, 2012
Spider-like movements will be the physical activity of choice this summer now that the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has released “The Amazing Spider-Man™” lessons and exercise guides. Designed by NASPE for children and youth ages 6-11 and 12-14, the free online lessons are posted on NASPE’s Web site and are perfect for summer camp counselors and recreation program staff who want to help their campers get the nationally recommended 60+ minutes of physical activity every day while having fun. In addition, children and youth will have an opportunity to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+).
PALA+ promotes physical activity AND good nutrition, because it takes both to lead a healthy lifestyle. Signing up for the...
June 19, 2012
At camp, some kids practice sports, some practice instruments, and some practice their belly flops. But one thing that ALL campers practice is independence!
Camp provides a nurturing and safe environment for kids to face challenges on their own, and that can be incredibly constructive to a child’s character.
In a recent Washington Post interview, author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, put it this way: “I think camp is the best emotional preparation for a successful college experience, because you practice being on your own, keeping track of your clothes; you practice living in a community and getting along with roommates you don’t love — all of the skills you need for true independence.”
And when kids have had the experience of...
June 18, 2012
You will have tons of fun as a camp counselor this summer — but did you know that you’re also developing critical workplace skills?
Traditionally, the “3 Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic) have been the focus of workplace preparation. In other words:
- Can you write coherently?
- How’s your reading comprehension?
- Is your toolbox of math skills pretty full?
But according to the American Management Association’s 2010 Critical Skills Survey:
. . . [T]he new workplace requires more from its employees. Employees need to think critically, solve problems, innovate, collaborate, and communicate more effectively—and at every level within the organization.
In fact, there’s even a new phrase to describe these additional, critical job skills: the “4...
June 13, 2012
Whether you’re a seasoned vet or this is your first summer as a camp counselor, it’s important to get the season started right! Here are some expert tips for your very first days at camp.
Set Goals for Yourself
From “Will I Be Enough to Make a Difference?” by Greg Cronin, CCD
Start this summer by setting realistic goals you can work toward. It’s important to verbalize your goals to your supervisors, so they can help keep you on task during challenging situations. Remember, they are going to hold you accountable for your decision making, so be pragmatic when you develop your ideas. (For a sample “Top Ten” list of goals, see the rest of Greg’s article.)
Help Campers Make Friends
June 12, 2012
I believe we all want kids to grow up to be successful, healthy, contributing adults. Yet, it seems we have a contradiction in approaches — a paradox — that causes competition in resources, both fiscal and time.
Which strategy gives kids the brightest future: One that employs academic, resume building environments? Or one that presents engaged, experiential, and expanded learning approaches?
I believe, if we do share a desired outcome for children, in fact, both strategies are essential. The sooner we figure out how to manage that shared space, the greater our shared success — for our kids.
Photo courtesy of Camp Echo in Coleman High Country, Merrick, New York.
June 4, 2012
As a parent, I fear we have forgotten that for generations, children grew up outside. We rode our bikes around the neighborhood and splashed around in creeks. We ran barefoot in the grass and climbed trees. Childhood was characterized by innocence, imagination, energy, wonder, and laughter. Frankly, the thought of being cooped up inside all day long was unfathomable and tortuous. Truth be known, that was how my dad punished me — I was sent to my room.
Yet today, research shows that the amount of time U.S. children spend outside has declined by 50 percent in the last two decades alone. On average, children currently spend 5.5 hours a day plugged into some kind of electronic device. Worse, yet, both the media and parents are often telling children and youth they should fear others and be afraid to go outdoors. As a result, silently and suddenly, we have a population of young people who may never have seen the stars, heard an owl in the darkness of...
June 1, 2012
According to author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, 97 percent of children experience at least some occasional homesick feelings at camp. Considering that statistic, you’ll probably have at least a few campers who experience some level of homesickness this summer. As their counselor — their first line of communication and comfort — do you know what to say and do?
Selected Tips for Handling Campers’ Homesickness
1. Early on, introduce campers to older campers who were once in their shoes.
“One thing that helped me was bringing me to visit older campers in their bunks,” said David. The older campers welcomed David and shared personal memories of their first days many years ago. In their unpacking, they also showed a glimpse of a teenage world to which most ten-year-old boys aspire. When companies market products to children, they often will show children and teens several...
May 31, 2012
Guest post by Missy Schenck
The first time I went away to summer camp I had just finished the third grade. All first-year campers have nagging doubts about their summer away from home and I was no exception.
I love sharing my very first summer camp experience (fifty years ago this summer) because I was so homesick that I thought I was going to die. It was entirely possible for me to average at least four good cries a day that first week or so. I’ve shared this story summer after summer with our homesick campers.
When I was growing up, parents were not helicopter parents; in fact, they were quite the opposite. Children were put on trains and buses and sent to camp and we said good-bye at the station. Parents did not make our bunks or put away our clothes. Our counselors...
May 29, 2012
I love to read, and as such, many people forward things to me they think I might find interesting. It is great — I feel like I have my own set of librarians working just for me. ACA’s Director of Research Deb Bialeschki is one of those librarians.
Last week, Deb shared an article with me by Shelly Engelman and Tom McKlin about “Grit” as a measure of academic success. Seriously! They write: “While interest and content knowledge do contribute to achieving goals, psychologists have recently found that Grit — defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals — is potentially the most important predictor of success. In fact, research indicates that the correlation between grit and achievement was twice as large as the correlation between IQ and achievement.”
Let’s a give a “Woo Hoo!” Or as Linda Erceg, executive...
May 23, 2012
Stargazing in the night sky, hiking in an ancient forest, even just feeling the breeze on a warm day — these simple things help kids find peace of mind, wonder, and a greater connection to the world. Camp is one of the best places (and in some cases, the only place) for kids to be nurtured by nature!
Time spent in nature — away from a screen — benefits kids in so many ways:
- Mental: Studies have shown that time spent in nature improves cognitive functioning.
- Physical: Playing outdoors gets kids off the couch and moving, helping them reach (and often exceed!) their recommended 60 minutes of activity time per day.
- Emotional: Studies have shown that nature reduces stress, and it allows for opportunities of self-discovery.
(Read more about these benefits and others in...
May 22, 2012
There is something to be said about the revival of a “way of learning” that supports tacit knowledge, (tacit knowledge will be needed in a constantly changing world — see “Learning for a World of Constant Change,” by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown), and its relationship to the cultivation of both hope and imagination. Tacit knowledge is a result of doing and experiencing — engagement. Tacit knowledge is not a learning process that is linear or mechanical but the result of a collection of experiences that help one make meaning.
This approach to learning requires a massive shift from hierarchical teaching environments to "heterarchical" learning environments. The camp community is one such heterarchical learning environment — and it happens to bring to the 21st century more than 150 years of...